All Hail Old Aqaba!


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Middle East » Jordan » South » Aqaba
December 13th 2013
Published: December 14th 2013
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Hello fellow travellers!

After our booze bonanza yesterday we unfortunately woke up way past breakfast and therefore we missed our Saudi Arabian friend from yesterday. Instead we chose the not so glamorous option to eat at McDonald's. At least it did its job and got us back on our feet which in all honesty was quite shaky after a long day of travelling topped with a generous amount alcohol.

With some food in our belly we then set out to explore Aqaba. I'm going to be honest and say that there isn't that much to see here but we started with the Aqaba Archaeological Museum. It's a quite small museum and it doesn't house to many objects but the entry fee was only 1 JD so of course it was worth it. The museum is actually located in the building where Hussein Bin Ali stayed after the conquest of Aqaba during the Arabian Revolt so that is a nice little touch though.

After our visit to the museum we strolled up to Aqaba Castle which is a rather small castle yet you can see how it was an accomplishment for the Arabs to conquer it during the Arabian Revolt. I can understand why it is considered a place of a great triumph against the Turkish occupation. The castle isn't spectacular by any means but it is definitely well worth checking out while you're here because at least the gates are very well preserved.

From the castle we made our way over to the excavation of the early Islamic city of Ayla. On our way there we saw a lot of smoke and heard a lot of angry voices, there seemed to be some kind of rally where they burned all manner of things and protesting. When we passed the mosque a crowd had formed that was shouting and arguing so me and Marcus was concerned about whether Jordan would follow the path of Egypt but fortunately things didn't escalate. The dig at Ayla isn't very big or well preserved but I still think that it is worth a visit, there's no entrance fee and there are plenty of information in English to be had on site. We kind of went about it in a weird order though, there is actually a tour around the excavation available if you follow the signs properly. The best and most well preserved part of the excavation is the Egyptian Gate. When you enter the site, go to the right and follow the old city walls and you'll see the Egyptian Gate from it's best side.

While we were still in Ayla it unfortunately started to hail but we had managed to see most of it before that though so we quickly ran back to the hotel before we got pummelled by the hail. Hail in Jordan, the weather is definitely not what I had expected when I booked the trip, shorts and t-shirts are a poor choice against hail. We decided to stay in the hotel until the evening when the weather finally improved and we needed to venture out to find something to eat.

We found a place called Syrian Palace up across from the mosque, Marcus remembered that it had received several good reviews so we decided that this should be a good place to eat. The decoration inside is, well, weird to say the least with glass tables containing sand and aquarium decorations. We both decided to try a local Aqaba dish called Bukhara (I think). The dish was composed of cooked lamb and rice with some side dishes. The lamb was well cooked and the side dishes was all quite interesting. We left full and satisfied, a good improvement from our dining so far in Aqaba.

Anyway, we went to the local market to stock up on alcohol and snacks so now we'll take a calm evening at the hotel with some beer, chips and a couple of movies. The channel package at the hotel is quite nice and there are plenty of movies in English available. Today we barely got our beer past security though, it was most likely because it's Friday not to mention the fact that we bought a lot of it this time. The security guard let us through though but asked us to be a little bit more discreet about it from now on and we promised we'd be, he's a nice guy and we don't want to make things awkward for him.

Tomorrow we'll make our way out to Wadi Rum, we went to the bus station today and there's a minibus that pass near there and they are only a couple JD to ride so we might go by it. I'm really looking forward to seeing Wadi Rum, after all, this is the route that Lawrence took along with his Arabian entourage to conquer Aqaba from the Turks. I just hope that we have more luck with the weather tomorrow, it will be weird if we freeze our asses of in the middle of the desert!

I never thought I'd see the day when a swede, with Viking blood in his veins, would freeze in the Middle East but that's the beauty of travel in a way. When things don't go as planned you usually get the most vivid memories to bring with you back home!

Anyway, until tomorrow I wish you all peace and happy travels!


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